The special lecture, Hindustani Sanjhi Sanskriti aur Allama Shibli, was chaired by educationist Prof Devendra Raj Ankur, while Kashinath Singh, Mukesh Bhushan and Liladhar Mandloi were the other speakers. The institute is also observing the 100th death anniversary of its founder Maulana Shibli Nomani.
“We had planned this session due to the present circumstances. The need of the hour is unity and Shibli Academy is known for unity and communal harmony,” Prof Ishtiyaq Zilli, director of the academy, told The Indian Express.
The event also witnessed scores of Hindu families visiting the institute. “We need to inculcate the vision of Allama Shibli. He was a great thinker and had advocated Hindu-Muslim unity,” said Mukesh Bhushan while presenting his paper during the special lecture.
“It is not the function of only Shibli Academy, but of whole Azamgarh. We are proud of Allama Shibli,” said Ravinder Rai, a retired principal, on was attending the event.
Asked why he was at the event, Rajesh Singh, a local who was at the institute with his family, replied: “Shibli sahib ka programme hai, unki qabr yahin hai (It is an event on Allama Shibli, his grave is here).”
The three-day event was recently in news after 14 Pakistani scholars, who were to travel to India over the weekend to attend the centenary celebrations, were denied visa even after the Ministry of External Affairs had cleared the trip.
“We had clearance from the Ministry of External Affairs, still they refused Visa. People from all over the world have come here, including a Pakistani judge,” Zilli stated. The event has visitors from several countries, including South Africa, the US and Canada.
Though most speakers talked about Allama Shibli, the Aligarh movement, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan and contributions of Shibli Academy in education, a few, mostly from abroad, touched upon the subject of the condition of Muslims in India. “Don’t worry, it will also pass. There is a general feeling that Muslims are being treated as underclass. It is not good for the country and still it is expected that you don’t get angry,” said Prof David Lelyveld, a retired history professor from William Paterson University in New Jersey, US.
“There is too much hue about Islamophobia and Muslim terror groups… Even Christian terror groups had bombed the US. We can’t deny that they don’t exist, but still there is hope,” he added. Lelyveld apprehended that after Narendra Modi became Prime Minister, Muslims were feeling “low”.
As the second day of the event came to a close after a poetic sitting, Zilli regretted SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav could not make it. “He was in Ahmedabad, what can I say,” he said. The three-day event,inaugurated by Vice-President Hamid Ansari, will conclude on Monday.